Cameron dodging scrutiny on Israel arms sales, says Lammy

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Cameron dodging scrutiny on Israel arms sales, says Lammy

MPs from across the political spectrum have suggested the UK should stop providing weapons for fear of breaching international humanitarian law

Israeli troops on the Gaza side of the border at the entrance to a tunnel.
Israeli troops on the Gaza side of the border at the entrance to a tunnel.

Lord David Cameron has faced accusations of hiding from scrutiny amid questions about the UK’s arms sales to Israel.

MPs from across the political spectrum have suggested the UK should stop selling weapons to Israel for fear of breaching international humanitarian law.

The issue has gained traction in recent days amid the political fallout after the killings of three British aid workers by the Israel Defence Forces, an attack it admitted was a “grave mistake”.

The Foreign Secretary’s Labour counterpart, David Lammy, has called for Lord Cameron to appear in the House of Commons and answer MPs directly on arms export licences.

It comes on the day Israel marks six months since October 7, when Hamas terrorists stormed into its territory and killed more than 1,100 people, lighting the spark for the Middle East conflict.

Lord Cameron meanwhile warned that Britain’s support for Israel is not unconditional.

In a letter to Lord Cameron, the shadow foreign secretary accuses the senior Government figure of having “gone silent” after claiming new counsel had been sought on the matter at the start of March.

David Lammy

“We cannot have a foreign secretary dodging scrutiny on arms sales, which is a matter of enormous legal and diplomatic importance,” Mr Lammy wrote.

He urged Lord Cameron to publish any legal advice the Government had received, and to reveal whether Downing Street had instructed him not to do so.

Mr Lammy also called for “an exceptional statement on the Gaza conflict” by Lord Cameron in the House of Commons.

The cross-party Procedure Committee of MPs has recommended the Foreign Secretary could make such a statement from the threshold of the chamber, known as the bar of the House.

Only sitting MPs are conventionally allowed to cross this line into the Commons.

Lord Cameron was also urged to issue a statement committing the UK to comply with international law on arms exports.

Export licences could not continue to be granted for UK arms heading to Israel if there was a risk that weapons could be used in a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

Writing in the Sunday Times, the Foreign Secretary issued a warning over Israel’s compliance with international law.

He placed further pressure on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the killings of three British aid workers, saying “this must never happen again”.

Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, said the UK continues to stand by Israel’s right to defend its security, as he marked six months since the October 7 attacks.

The Prime Minister also urged the Israelis to ensure aid gets into Gaza more swiftly.

The UK has announced a Royal Navy ship will be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean to help launch a new sea corridor for supplies, alongside £9.7 million funding.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “As part of the Government’s robust arms export control regime we periodically review advice on Israel’s commitment to international humanitarian law, and ministers act in accordance with that advice.

“The content of this advice and related assessments is confidential.

“Decisions on export licences are based on the strategic export licensing criteria. We would make public any decision to suspend or revoke existing licences.”

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